Wealth and fame are often no friends to faith.
The temptations experienced by Christians are often limited by financial constraints. After all, most of us simply cannot afford to constantly indulge in addictive substances, illicit activities, and mindless self-indulgence. The money runs out, we’re forced to confront ourselves, and repentance is all the easier in the absence of unlimited temptation.
But wealth and fame are also a platform—just as they expand the realm of temptation, they also expand the realm of opportunity. They allow a select number of people to reach out and help others as few of us ever can.
Silas Robertson, known as Uncle Si on A&E’s Duck Dynasty, has used has platform well, becoming a great example of how to use wealth to not only do good, but to actually grow in faith.
A Breakout Star
Before emerging as everyone’s favorite tea-sippin’ Duck Dynasty star, Si was a high school football player, Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, and, upon retirement from the army in 1993, fashioner of the reeds that went into every Duck Commander duck call.
Known as much for his jokes, antics, and stories as for his ever-present blue Tupperware cup which he keeps filled with iced tea, Si has long been a fan favorite amongst the cast of the show.
Duck Dynasty, at its most popular, had the most viewers of any nonfiction cable show in history, generating over 400 million dollars in merchandising revenue alone and propelling its television personalities to worldwide fame.
But fame and fortune have done little to change Uncle Si—the Tupperware cup in his hand is still the same one his mother sent to him as part of a care package during his time in Vietnam. He still tells the same jokes, although he now has a few new stories. He’s still the same man he always was.
Just as significantly, he still holds the same faith. No—that’s not quite right. His faith has, in fact, grown stronger since his rise to television prominence.
In a 2016 interview with Beliefnet, Si briefly talked to us about his new book, “Si-renity,” and gave us a few details about how his Duck Dynasty fame has affected his life and faith. Let’s take a look at what the reed-maker had to say.
An Interview With Uncle Si
What is “Si-renity” all about, and what inspired you to write another book?
"The fans want to know what I’m doing now, and so the book is what happened since the show became a hit, and includes all the events we went to and all the things that have happened since then.
God has just taken me on a wonderful ride. I’ve met fabulous people—most of them fans—and I’ve spent the night at people’s houses where they’ve opened up their homes to me in all different states, which is so cool. I’ve seen all kinds of neat things that God has done using the Robertson family. That was what brought about me writing this—the fans enjoyed 'Si-cology 1,' and asked 'What’s happened in your life since the show became a hit?' The book mainly just tells what’s going on, what I’ve been through, and how I’ve stayed on an even keel, so to speak.
Were there any stories that were particularly fun to reminisce about?
All of it was! When you do something like this, you’re going back in time thinking about things that have happened—a lot of times, you bust out laughing. With us, with what goes on, some of the times tears get in your eyes. With the Make a Wish Foundation for kids, those kids come to you with their last wish on earth—they’re dying—which is that they want to meet me or meet my family members. Well, you’ve got to think about that. The person is fixing to pass away, and their last wish on this earth is to meet Uncle Si? Well, number one, that’s quite humbling. And number 2, it’s unbelievable.
The Almighty has turned it around, okay, and what he’s done has actually strengthened my faith in Him. He’s used people that are on their way out. We sent prayers out to some of them, and they’ve actually been healed. It’s just a neat thing to be a part of.
I tell people a lot of times that God knew what He was doing. If he had gave me this kind of fame when I was 25, I wouldn’t have been worth tootin’. I was young and I wouldn’t have handled it well. He waited until I got older and a little more mature, and hopefully I’ve handled it well enough that He’s pleased with me."
Is there any wisdom that you’d particularly like to share with our readers?
"When I’m out at events, people always ask 'What words of wisdom will you leave with us before you’re done for the night?' I say, 'Look, life is way too short—learn to laugh at yourself, because look, we’re all human, and we all make mistakes, and sometimes we do stupid stuff. We say, ‘What was I thinking?’ I know I’ve done it. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t done it.'
So learn to laugh at yourself and to love those that are close to you—your family and friends. Cause this world is cruel. I always say that if a person goes to the doctor, and the doctor says that your child is dying of cancer, if you don’t have a strong family unit or faith in God, what do you do when you’re hit with that?
That’s why I always tell people that life is too short. Love your family, love your friends, enjoy life. It’s too short to go and be a big sourpuss all your life. Laugh at yourself and move on. Enjoy what God has created and what He’s given to you.
We keep trying to tell everybody to try God’s way—love Him, love each other. Give that a shot and see how it works out.
Speaking of God, do you have a favorite verse that you’d like to share?
John 3:16 and 17. Most people know 16, 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' But 17 is more important—“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Look, if the savior of the world, Jesus Christ, didn’t come to condemn us, okay, I tell people all the time—do not get in the condemning business. You’re not qualified. Jesus was qualified. He had the right to condemn us. But he didn’t do it! So I always look at that and I always keep it in mind when I start getting on somebody—I say to myself, 'Hey. You’re not qualified, so get off that condemning business.'
The Bible is full of stuff we can use on a daily basis."
How would you say that your fame has affected your faith?
"It’s strengthened by what God has done. When I look in the mirror, I look and say 'Can you believe what He’s done? He’s turned me into a TV celebrity.' Never in a million years would I have thought that, oh yeah, one of these days you’re going to be rich beyond your belief.
There’s a scripture that says He can do more than you can ask or imagine. And he’s proved that with the Robertson family, okay, because he’s turned me into a TV celebrity and made me well-off financially—He’s done that. I figured I’d be struggling my whole life until I died, but he’s fixed that where it’s not so anymore.
So it’s actually strengthened my faith in him. The story is that God became flesh, died on the cross for our sins, was buried, three days later rose from the grave and ascended bodily into heaven. That’s the story, and here’s the thing—we humans, we hear it and we have two choices: believe it, or believe it not.
Well, if you believe it, then you go with it, okay, and you try to live the life He outlines for you. If you don’t, well, there’s consequences. There’s consequences for both choices. If you believe, there are consequences. If you don’t believe, there are consequences. That’s where the human race is at.
Most of them have forgot about the Almighty, but for me personally, there’s more evidence that He’s there, and that He’s done everything recorded in His word. I’d say there’s more evidence for it being true than there is for it being not true. Each individual will have to make his or her choice."
Do you have any other projects going on right now?
"I just got finished doing 10 episodes of a new show. That will be coming out in November.
I’m also starting a music career. It’s Country Western—I sing Country Western whenever I get the chance."
A Gift Well-used
Uncle Si’s call to pay attention not only to John 3, verse 16, but to verse 17 as well, is incredibly wise. Christianity has incredible potential as a promoter of peace, wisdom, and love, but is oven overshadowed by scandals involving abuse and ill-treatment of our fellow man in the name of religion.
But Uncle Si’s desire to follow the loving example of Christ shows the strength of his faith. The Vietnam veteran strives to treat everyone well, and his friendly and humorous demeanor during the interview only reinforced his words. Not only that, but he makes a point to give back to others—especially children in need.
If there’s one thing we can learn about faith and wealth from Uncle Si, it’s that we must strive to see God’s hand in everything that happens to us, and to be grateful for what we have been given. This isn’t a viewpoint that comes naturally—it must be worked at and maintained. When we realize that our success is due to the Father, we’re much more apt to use it for Godly purposes.
This is the secret to keeping faith when success finally swoops down and lifts us high. So take it from Uncle Si—God can use anyone for His greatest purposes. We just have to be ready to hold onto our faith when he does.